COVID Grants Given to Local Arts Organizations


The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has chosen ArtsMemphis as one of nine local arts agencies nationwide to receive $250,000 in CARES Act funding. Separately, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis (CFGM) selected ArtsMemphis to receive a $200,000 capacity building grant from the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.

Both grants will help the nonprofit arts community combat the financial implications of COVID-19.

In addition to the CARES Act grant to ArtsMemphis, the NEA announced grants of $50,000 each to four Memphis arts organizations: Blues City Cultural Center, Hattiloo Theatre, Indie Memphis, and Opera Memphis.

The NEA recommended grants for direct funding through the CARES Act to 855 organizations across the country. ArtsMemphis and eight other local arts agencies were selected to receive a larger grant of $250,000, joining Boston, Chicago, Lafayette, Colo., Phoenix, Reno, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Tucson. The remaining 846 organizations will receive grants of $50,000.

The CFGM grant is part of a larger block of funding from the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund intended to address community needs, and to provide a wider safety net for the forward progress of the arts sector. “We will redirect these funds as unrestricted support to nonprofit arts organizations in Memphis and Shelby County,” says ArtsMemphis president and CEO Elizabeth Rouse.

A survey of more than 250 Shelby County artists and organizations conducted by ArtsMemphis indicated a total anticipated loss of income across the arts sector of $7.4 million through June 30, 2020. Nationally, according to data released by Americans for the Arts (AFTA) of 17,000 arts organizations surveyed, projected losses through June 30th at $8.4 billion.

This is the second distribution of funds received by ArtsMemphis from CFGM’s Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund since the pandemic forced arts organizations to close on March 16th. ArtsMemphis established the Artist Emergency Fund (AEF) in partnership with Music Export Memphis (MEM) and together they distributed $308,000 to 443 individuals in the Mid-South arts sector.

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